S. Korean golfer Chun In-gee happy to achieve 2016 goals

November 23, 2016

INCHEON, Nov. 22 (Yonhap) — South Korean golfer Chun In-gee, who won Rookie of the Year and the scoring average title on the LPGA Tour, returned home to a hero’s welcome Tuesday, as she is pleased with her performance this year.

Chun had already clinched the top rookie title two months ago by winning the Evian Championship, the season’s last major tournament in France. On Sunday, the 22-year-old added another honor in her first full LPGA season with the Vare Trophy, which is awarded to the player with the lowest scoring average for the year.

Chun shot a two-under 70 in the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida. She birdied the last three holes to edge out Lydia Ko of New Zealand and take the Vare Trophy.

Chun finished the season with a 69.583 scoring average, just 0.013 ahead of Ko.

“I have achieved all of my small goals for this season which were to compete at the Olympics and win the (LPGA) Rookie of the Year title,” Chun told reporters at Incheon International Airport upon her return from the United States. “I won the scoring average title in addition to that. So I’m really happy.”

With the Rookie of the Year title and the Vare Trophy in her hands, Chun is only the second golfer in history to win two awards in her LPGA rookie season after Nancy Lopez did so in 1978.

“I won two trophies, but I couldn’t bring them with me here,” she said. “I also received a luxury watch for the prize. I had to go through customs declaration because of that and that’s why I came out of the arrival gate a little late.”

Chun suffered a lower back injury in March and was forced to miss a month of action. She had a solid performance later on, which enabled her to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games as one of four South Koreans. She tied two others in 13th place at five-under at the Rio Games.

Chun, however, said her lower back problem still needs to be treated.

“For the remainder of the year, I want to have full treatment of my injury,” she said. “I will not play any tournaments, but just focus on my treatment.”

Expectations were high for Chun’s first LPGA season as a full-time member. Last year, she won the U.S. Women’s Open, the oldest ladies’ major, as a nonmember. Chun said she felt pressure to live up to people’s expectations, but she believed herself.

“I always had positive thoughts,” she said. “Although I had a little trouble, I always thought I’m in rising mode.”

South Korean golfer Chun In-gee waves to fans at Incheon International Airport after returning home from an LPGA Tour event in Florida on Nov. 22, 2016.

South Korean golfer Chun In-gee waves to fans at Incheon International Airport after returning home from an LPGA Tour event in Florida on Nov. 22, 2016.

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